Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Bald eagles flying high in N.Y.

You could read plenty of stories about the recovery of the bald eagle in New York and other states, check the data on nesting populations and breeding numbers, and hear just how it happened over the years, notably through the elimination of the use of the pesticide DDT.

But there's a better way. Get out there and see for yourself.

It's true: bald eagle sightings are actually fairly common these days in many areas of the Empire State. When we lived in the Adirondacks, our go-to viewing areas were Ausable Point State Park along Lake Champlain, as well as some ice-fishing waters where it common to see a bald eagle glide in and snatch an unattended pike or walleye. 

Sometimes you don't even have to "get out there." Just last week I watched a pair of adult eagles cruising above the Susquehanna River right from my office window.

The Susquehanna seems to be a bald eagle magnet. There's a nest site just a mile or so from my house, on a steep hill above the river. It's actually becoming routine to see a bald eagle during my semi-daily post office run. An immature eagle on ice. A mature, white-headed eagle perched in a tree on the Chemung River between Lowman and Elmira. Even a mature bird on a road-killed whitetail on a back road not far from the Susquehanna.

Float a stretch of the Susquehanna between Nichols, N.Y., and the Pennsylvania border and several such sightings are virtually guaranteed.

It's a fantastic added dimension to every outdoor excursion; I'll never get used to it, having come a long way from my first, unceremonious eagle sighting some 35 years ago. That occurred as the sun rose on Nova Scotia, as Paula and I drove to the ferry launch to Newfoundland for a moose hunt. There, in the middle of the road, surrounded by several ravens, was an adult eagle feasting on a road kill of some kind. Not exactly the majestic moment I've since experienced with this spectacular bird.

In New York, it's ben an incredible success story. Back in 1960 the state had just one active bald eagle nest remaining; wintering eagle numbers had plummeted to less than a few dozen.

Today, there are about 200 breeding pairs and New York's bald eagles fledge about 10 percent more young eagles than the previous year.

New York would like to maintain that momentum; DEC recently unveiled an ambitious bald eagle management plan designed to keep the rebound moving forward. The plan calls for working with landowners, developers and the private sector to reduce impacts from land clearing; collisions with utility lines, wind turbines and other structures; minimizing impacts from environmental contaminants, including lead, and working to maintain habitat and limit human disturbance.

Today, the bald eagle has become a fairly common sight in New York state, even though there's nothing common about this special bird.

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